Common Core’s Five Big Half-Truths

Sep 3, 2014 by

For starters: What does “evidence-based” really mean?

School is back in session, and debate over the Common Core is boiling away in key states. As governors and legislators debate the fate of the Common Core, they hear repeated five impressive claims that Core advocates lay out: that their handiwork is “internationally benchmarked,” “evidence-based,” “college- and career-ready,” and “rigorous,” and that the nations that perform best on international tests all have national standards.

In making these claims, advocates go on to dismiss skeptics as ignorant extremists who are happy to settle for mediocrity. The thing is, once examined, these claims are far less compelling than they appear at first glance. They’re not false so much as grossly overstated. Herewith, a handy cheat sheet for putting the Common Core talking points in context.

Internationally benchmarked: Advocates tout their handiwork as “internationally benchmarked.” By this they mean that the committees that penned the Common Core paid particular attention to the standards of countries that fare well on international tests. It’s swell that they did so, but benchmarking usually means comparing one’s performance with another’s — not just borrowing some attractive ideas. What the Common Core authors did is more “cutting-and-pasting” than “benchmarking.” Some experts even reject the notion that the standards are particularly good when compared with those of other nations. Marina Ratner, professor emerita of math at the University of California, Berkeley, and winner of the 1993 international Ostrowski Prize, has written:

via Common Core’s Five Big Half-Truths | National Review Online.

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